What was it all the smart set said about Bush? Lazy and uncurious? Had Obama or his speechwriters chanced upon last week’s fishwrap, they might have noticed that I described the president as “the very model of a modern major generalist,” and they might have considered whether it might not be time to try something new. For example, he could have demonstrated, as he and his Energy Secretary (whoops, Nobel Prize-winning Energy Secretary) have so signally failed to do, an understanding of what is actually happening 5,000 feet underwater and why it’s hard to stop. Instead, lazy and uncurious, this is what the Technocratic Mastermind offered: “Just after the rig sank, I assembled a team of our nation’s best scientists and engineers to tackle this challenge – a team led by Dr. Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and our nation’s Secretary of Energy. Scientists at our national labs and experts from academia and other oil companies have also provided ideas and advice.
“As a result of these efforts, we’ve directed BP to mobilize additional equipment and technology.”
Excellent. The president directed his Nobel Prize-winning Head of Meetings to assemble a meeting to tackle the challenge of mobilizing the assembling of the tackling of the challenge mobilization, at the end of which they directed BP to order up some new tackle and connect it to the thingummy next to the whachamacallit. Thank you, Mr. President. That and $4.95 will get you a venti oleaginato at Starbucks.
The boring technocrat stuff out of the way, he then did his usual shtick. In the race speech, invited to address specific points about his pastor’s two-decade pattern of ugly anti-American rhetoric and his opportunist peddling of paranoid conspiracies to his gullible congregants about AIDS being invented by the U.S. government to wipe them out, Obama preferred to talk about race in general – you know, blacks, whites, that sort of thing; lot of it about. The media loved it. This time round, invited to address specific points about an unstoppable spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Obama retreated to more generalities – the environment, land, air, that sort of thing; lot of it about. “President Obama said he is going to use the Gulf disaster to push a new energy bill through Congress,” observed Jay Leno. “How about using the Gulf disaster to fix the Gulf disaster?”
When he did get specific, he sounded faintly surreal. “As we speak, old factories are reopening to produce wind turbines, people are going back to work installing energy-efficient windows…” Energy-efficient windows? That’s a great line – if Obama’s auditioning to play himself on “Saturday Night Live” parodies.
And hang on, isn’t this the same guy who was promising to start “kicking ass” just a few days ago? You may find yourself recalling the moment in the film “In And Out” when Kevin Kline is trying to master the “How To Be Manly” audiotape and accidentally says “What an interesting window treatment.”
I’m whisking Peter away overnight to a top secret location suspiciously without iPhone data reception. Be back tomorrow afternoon.